Sunday 17th May
So, today, in our bible reading we see that Paul has travelled to Ephesus, and he finds some disciples. Nothing is said about how he finds them, or even how many – simply that he finds them.
There has only been one holiday abroad where I didn’t find disciples on a Sunday, and that was because I was with my family and it was our time. However, I did find a disciple in the form of a Roman Catholic priest one evening when I was taking a walk.
I found a church building in a part of the town we were staying in and it was still open, so I went in. I couldn’t see anyone, so, being me, I had to try the acoustics out, which were amazing. And then, out of a door by the altar, popped a priest and a teenager.
There followed a quite comical conversation between me and the teenage boy, who translated it for the priest, and then back to me. It turned out that the priest and I both knew a song in Spanish and so we sang it together.
He then blessed me, a female priest, and I in turn blessed him. It was an amazing experience. We didn’t speak about the Holy Spirit, we didn’t need to, because the presence of the Holy Spirit could be felt.
When Paul met the disciples, they didn’t burst into song like I did, probably, but he did ask whether they had received the Holy Spirit when they became believers. They hadn’t even heard that there was such a thing, but there was no hesitation – they believed in Jesus, and were baptized as Paul laid his hands on them.
Paul, wherever he went, spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the Kingdom of God. When was the last time you spoke with boldness about the Kingdom of God to those who don’t know him yet? It was because of the boldness of the previously-scared disciples and previous torturer Paul – plus others – that we know about Jesus today.
Finally, we read that extraordinary miracles were being done through Paul – so much so that some Jewish exorcists tried to copy Paul’s method, but the evil spirits didn’t recognize them, even though they were trying to copy his words and method. Many Jews and Greeks saw this, eventually, properly repented and were baptized.
Repentance has to be all, or it might as well be nothing. Have you, will you, repent of your sins? The stuff you think no-one knows about, the other side of you that you like to present to everyone else? Paul said: “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Reflection by Dot Gosling